Date of Graduation
Although anxiety-related responding and skill deficits have historically been associated with performance-based problems such as high mathematics anxiety, the relative contributions of these variables to substandard performance remains poorly understood. Utilizing a 7% carbon dioxide gas mixture to induce fear, the present study was designed to determine the impact of fear-related responding to cognitive task performance. Independent variables included anxiety group, gender, and gas condition. Dependent variables included behavioral, physiological, and self-report indices. A total of 64 university undergraduate students participated in the study. High and low math anxious individuals were randomly assigned to either a carbon dioxide or control condition and engaged in two tasks, an arithmetic verification task and a lexical decision task. In addition to these tasks, physiological and verbal report measures were included to examine fear-related responding. Results revealed that high math anxious individuals exhibit both global and local avoidance of mathematics. They generally take fewer math courses, and demonstrate higher error rates and longer response times, particularly on more complex tasks. Females tended to report greater math anxiety, exhibit more avoidance of advanced math classes, and more physiological arousal during performance tasks. The utility of 7% carbon dioxide-enriched air as a fear-inducing stimulus was demonstrated, particularly on physiological and verbal-report measures of fear. Behavioral disruption on cognitive tasks, however, generally did not differ as a function of carbon dioxide inhalation. The study elucidates the importance of examining discordance among anxiety response systems and highlights the need to further investigate the relation between anxiety and skill as strides are made toward isolating the effects of these variables on mathematical performance.
Hopko, Derek Richard, "The effects of fearful responding of arithmetic performance." (2000). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 9056.